Baseball Legend: Babe Ruth Biography
George Herman "Babe" Ruth
Born: February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland
Died: August 16, 1948 in New York, New York
Professional Baseball Player: 1914-1935
- Boston Red Sox : 1914-1919
- New York Yankees: 1920-1934
- Boston Braves: 1935
Babe Ruth's Nicknames:
"The Sultan of Swat"
"The Colossus of Clout"
Babe Ruth: Family Background
Ruth was born to his father, George Sr. and his mother Kate. Babe and his sister, Mary, were the only children out of 8 to survive through infancy. Throughout their childhood, Babe and Mary were left alone most of the time to take care of themselves while their parents were working at a tavern.
Babe Ruth: Education
Babe attended St. Mary’s Industrial School from age 7 until he began playing minor league baseball at the age of 19. Ruth’s parents eventually signed over custody of Babe to the missionaries at the school, as they were good influences and were responsible for introducing Babe to the game of baseball.
Babe Ruth: Married Life
In 1914 Babe, at the age of 19, married Helen Woodford. They had one daughter through adoption named Dorothy in 1921. Babe’s party lifestyle and infidelities contributed to their separation in 1925. Due to their Catholic religion the two did not divorce, but Helen died tragically in a house fire in 1929. By this time Ruth had been involved with actress and model Claire Hodgson, who he married later in 1929. Claire had one daughter through a previous marriage named Julia, who Babe later adopted. Claire was a taming influence on Babe as she helped improve his diet, made him cut down on his drinking and partying, and took control of their finances.
Babe Ruth: Personality
Babe had a rebellious but warm-hearted personality. When Babe was a child he skipped school, smoked, drank, and committed petty crimes. Often times, Ruth was reckless and profane. Some of these characteristics carried into his adulthood also; his passion for the game of baseball and his rebellious antics led to spats with managers, owners, umpires, and teammates. However, Ruth was a charismatic showman who fans adored and the media could not get enough of. Even though Ruth got into many heated battles with teammates, most teammates still liked him because he was so warm-hearted. Ruth often visited hospitals and orphanages and was very generous in providing for charities, especially for children, and was also generous with his time as he tried to sign all of the autographs that he could.
Babe Ruth: Social Life
As previously alluded to, Babe Ruth lived life to the fullest, as some of his off the field antics share similar legendary status as his accomplishments on the field. Babe was larger than life in everything he did from his eating, drinking, escapades with women, and his philanthropic acts with charities.
Babe Ruth: Physical Characteristics
Babe Ruth was listed at 6’2”, 215
pounds, but his weight fluctuated throughout his playing career and up until
his death. At the beginning of his baseball career, Ruth had a tall and
athletic build. However, throughout much of his playing career Ruth’s drinking, partying,
and love of food, caused Ruth’s figure to balloon into one that is not
prototypical of an athlete. After retirement from baseball, Ruth lost 40 pounds
to fulfill the role of himself in the movie The Pride of the Yankees, which is acclaimed as one of the greatest baseball movies of all-time. In the latter years of Ruth's life, he suffered from a number of illnesses which caused him to lose substantial
amounts of weight and caused him to look old for his age, especially at the
time of his death. Ruth died at the age of 53 from throat cancer.
Babe Ruth: Baseball Career Highlights
Babe Ruth was a professional baseball player for 22 seasons and is heralded by many as the greatest baseball player of all-time. Often overlooked because of his hitting prowess, Ruth’s career began with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher where he tallied up an astounding 94-46 career record with a 2.28 era. As for that hitting prowess, Ruth fascinated fans, as he was the first player in baseball history to hit 30, 40, 50, and 60 home runs in a season. "The Babe" ended his career with 714 homeruns, a total which was double that of the next closest person at the time of his retirement and still ranks him 3rd all-time to this day. In 1920, Ruth’s first season with the Yankees, Ruth hit 54 home runs; a staggering total considering no other player in history had ever hit over 25 at the time. Throughout most of his career, Ruth hit more home runs than entire teams did throughout the course of a season. Ruth led his teams to a total of 10 World Series appearances, winning 7 of them. Ruth was a clutch player who made baseball seem effortless. A good example of this was in the 1932 World Series when Ruth is said to have called his own shot for a home run by pointing to the center field bleachers as he stepped to the plate--Ruth carried through by hitting a monster home run to center field. In 1936, Babe Ruth was one of the first five players ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York, and in 1999, Ruth was named the Associated Press’ “Athlete of the Century”.
Babe Ruth: The Influence
As stated earlier, Babe Ruth is still regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, as well as one of America’s most legendary historical figures. Ruth changed the way the game was played with his dazzling home runs and power which led to the “live ball” era in baseball. Ruth’s charisma and talent brought a new found popularity to the game of baseball that it needed after the Black Sox Scandal, which made fans question the integrity of the game of baseball. Fans of Ruth saw him as a larger than life figure. Ruth’s presence not only set attendance records for his teams, but for all of baseball making the sport America’s pastime. Ruth gained most of his notoriety when he joined the New York Yankees in 1920, becoming one of the pioneers for what is today the most successful franchise in professional sports history. Ruth's legend to this day is mostly derived from his life and career while with the Yankees. In 1923, Ruth hit the first-ever home run at the famous Yankee Stadium, which became known for all of time as "the house that Ruth built".
Babe Ruth: Naysayers/ Baseball Mythology
While Ruth’s feats are remarkable,
some discredit Ruth’s accomplishments due to the fact that there were no
African Americans in the Major League throughout his career, diminishing the
level of competition that Ruth played against. As stated before, Ruth was not
an ideal role model on many levels with his rebellious antics and profane
speech; however these things also contributed to his mass appeal, especially
among New Yorkers. Ruth was regarded as such a mythical figure to many, that
players such as Roger Maris and Hank Aaron received numerous death threats upon
approaching and breaking Ruth’s baseball records. Finally, when Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees for 100,000 in 1919 it set off what is known in baseball mythology as "the curse of the bambino", as the Red Sox did not win another World Series until 2004.
Babe Ruth: Author's Perspective
As a baseball fan,
I view Ruth to be, at the very least, the most versatile baseball player of
all-time. I realize Ruth played in a unique era of baseball, but to be an
outstanding pitcher, along with his well-known accomplishments as a hitter sets
Ruth in a league by himself. Imagine if Ruth had not been a pitcher for the first 6 seasons of his career. How many home runs could he have ended up with--probably a record that would have been unbreakable. I think it is difficult today to have an appropriate
appreciation for his gaudy offensive statistics due to the fact many of his
records have been eclipsed. However, if one is to compare his numbers to that
of his competition of his time his numbers and accomplishments seem
unfathomable. I think if Ruth would not have played in New
York he may not have obtained his current legacy.
Ruth’s rebellious ways fit in well with the mystique of New
York and only helped to build his mythical and legendary status. I do
not believe Ruth would have obtained similar legendary status if he were playing today
because the present day media would be overly critical of his antics and they
would overshadow his performance. Overall, I consider Ruth to have been a great
man, with his philanthropy and his passion for what he did--not to mention, being one of the most historical figures in American history.